Statue of Equality — Hyderabad’s gigantic new landmark

By Sridhar Subramaniam
Indian PM Narendra Modi // Pic supplied

The itinerant traveller by now is familiar with Hyderabad’s iconic landmarks such as the Charminar, the Golkonda Fort, the Birla Mandir and the Salarjung Museum.

He will now necessarily have to add another monumental and new landmark to the bucket list of places to visit—the Statue of Equality!

Sri Ramanujacharya, as we all know is a Vaishnavite Saint who was born in Sriperumbudur in Tamil Nadu on April 25th,1077 CE. Ramanujacharya was a Philosopher, Theologian and most importantly a Social Reformer. He is one of the foremost exponents of Sri Vaishnavism tradition within Hinduism. Devotionalism, as propagated by him, laid the philosophical foundation for the Bhakti Movement.

He propagated Vishistadvaita (qualified non-dualism) which along with Advaita (non-dualism) propagated by Sri Adi Shankaracharya and Dvaita (theistic dualism) advocated by Sri Madhvacharya constitute the three most influential and important Vedantic  philosophies of the 2nd Millenium.

Ramanuja presented the epistemic and soteriological importance of Bhakti or devotion to a personal God as a means of spiritual liberation. It was Maha Vishnu, the Preserver in the Hindu Trinity, who was Sri Ramanuja’s personal God; His contention was that there exists a plurality and distinction between Atman (soul) and Brahman (Ultimate Reality). While he also affirmed that there is a Unity of all souls, the individual soul also has potential to realize Brahman.

Statue of Equality // Pic supplied

He brought the treasure of Vedic literature within the reach of the common man. He advocated Vishishtadvaita or qualified monism, as already mentioned. He dispelled the Mayavada concept , that states that world is illusory. He was a source of inspiration for a long line of latter day mystic poets like Annamacharya, Kabir, Meerabai, Narsinh Mehta, Tulsidas, Bhakta Ramadas, Sri Thyagaraja and many others .

The Sri Vaishnavite tradition prior to Sri Ramanuja was not averse to people from other castes as important people in the fold like Kanchipurna and Mahapurna were from other castes. Sri Ramanuja staged a virtual revolt against discrimination that had surreptitiously crept within the caste system. He was actually following the footsteps of the illustrious Azhwars (Vaishnavite Saints) when he helped people who were considered untouchables to get absorbed in the Sri Vaishnava movement and egged them to attain spiritual enlightenment by teaching them the sacred Sri Azhwar Divyaprabandam

He was “de facto” India’s first social reformer! It is only befitting that his statue be called Samatha Murthy or the Statue of Equality. It was dedicated to the nation by the Prime Minister of India, Sri Narendra Modi in a colourful function amidst all Vedic rites and Yagas.

His Holiness Tridandi Chinna Jeyer Swamiji // Pic supplied

This magnificent monument is the result of the untiring efforts of His Holiness Tridandi Chinna Jeyer Swamiji. Swamiji is an Ascetic renowned for his spiritual discourses on Sri Vaishnavism. Swamiji is the designer and planner of this magnificent project.

There are 108 holy places which are considered holy by Vaishnavas and these are across India. Every Vaishnava plans to visit these holy shrines at least once during his lifetime. Of the 108 temples, 105 are in India, one is in Nepal and the last two are outside the earthly realms. The last two are Thirupalkadal and Paramapadam. Thirupalkadal is the Ocean of Milk or Ksheerasagaram and Paramapadam is Sri Vaikuntam where Lord Narayana (Mahavishnu) presides.

The 108 shrines are replicated in miniature at the Statue of Equality precincts in Murchintal, near Shamshabad in Hyderabad, Telangana.

Statue of Equality // Pic supplied

In the ensuing years, Vaishnavas and the itinerant tourists will definitely make a beeline to this breathtaking monument and be mesmerised by it, for sure.

Yours truly can vouch for the magnificence, as he has been to the monument and has also been blessed by His Holiness Tridandi Chinna Jeeyar, who gave him a personal audience.

Make sure you pay obeisance to this amiable, affable Swamiji who has a pleasing and an endearing disposition and welcomes one and all with a lovely smile and a greeting Jai Sriman Narayana!

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